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Until the winter of 1918, Julius Caesar had not appeared to me to contain a "problem." I had, of course, known that Fleay had attributed to Jonson a reviser's share in the play, but I had been content to agree with Furnivall's contemptuous dismissal of the theory. It was purely by accident that what I conceive to be the truth about the tragedy came to me. A comrade of mine, in a Nissen hut in France, borrowed Shakespeare's Tragedies from a neighbouring Y.M.C.A. library. With his leave, I retained the book for a while. Timon of Athens, which, immediately before the war, had been the subject of intermittent study on my part, was the play I then wished to read, in order to define the hitherto unsuspected work of Middleton underlying the Shakespearean revision. Having done this to my satisfaction, I turned idly to the play next in order in the volume. It was Julius Caesar, and I had not read very far when I found myself listening to the voice of Francis Beaumont. (I may here say that I have read the plays of Beaumont and Fletcher, since my first acquaintance with them over twenty years ago, much more frequently than those of Shakespeare-bad taste, perhaps, but let that pass.) This consciousness of Beaumont's presence—and there was not even a hint of Fletcher-was extremely vivid in the second scene, and it remained with me, in some scenes strongly, but in others not at all, all through the reading of the play.
I had with me the two Mermaid volumes of Beaumont and Fletcher, and with the aid of these some remarkable parallels between the known work of Beaumont and Julius Caesar' were brought to light. The first theory that suggested itself was that